Home » Air » Hagel Moves to Kill Cold War Fleets

Hagel Moves to Kill Cold War Fleets

by Richard Sisk on February 24, 2014

U-2The proposal Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Monday to retire the A-10 attack aircraft and the U-2 spy plane was the latest in a series of thus-far unsuccessful attempts to kill the Cold War-vintage systems.

Both aircraft have ardent supporters in Congress and among veterans groups with a track record of fending off the cost-cutters arguing that the A-10 and U-2 have been on duty long past their shelf lives.

The tank-killer A-10 Thunderbolt, better known as the “Warthog” for its ungainly appearance, is especially beloved of the infantry for its GAU-8 Avenger, a 30mm rotary cannon that is the heaviest such weapon mounted on any aircraft.

Various models of the U-2 Dragon Lady have been operating in enemy airspace since 1955, when the first one came out of Lockheed’s famed “Skunk Works” facility in Burbank, Calif., under the guidance of legendary chief engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson.

In presenting the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget proposal, Hagel acknowledged that he had an uphill battle in going against the A-10 and the U-2.

Hagel rattled off a number of Air Force modernization programs in the budget but said that “to fund these investments, the Air Force will reduce the number of tactical air squadrons, including the entire A-10 fleet.”

Getting rid of the A-10s would save $3.5 billion over five years and speed their replacement by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the early 2020s, Hagel said.

“The “Warthog” is a venerable platform, and this was a tough decision,” Hagel said, “but the A-10 is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield.

As much as old pilots and the infantry love the plane, “it cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses,” Hagel said.

In the case of the U-2, the decision to retire the aircraft was more complicated. “This decision was a close call,” Hagel said.

Only two years ago, the Air Force and then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were lauding the capabilities of the high-flying U-2 and its high-resolution reconnaissance photos as far surpassing those of the Global Hawk drone that was being touted as a replacement.

At the time, then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that the Global Hawk “was supposed to replace the U-2 for taking pictures from the air and that was the idea, to do it with a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.”

However, at $176 million apiece, the Global Hawks were a budget buster “so we will continue to use the U-2. That’s a disappointment to us,” Carter said.

Hagel acknowledged that the Defense Department “had previously recommended retaining the U-2 over the Global Hawk because of cost issues. But over the last several years, DoD has been able to reduce the Global Hawk’s operating costs. With its greater range and endurance, the Global Hawk makes a better high-altitude reconnaissance platform for the future.”

In the battle over the A-10, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., whose husband flew A-10 missions in Iraq, has already rounded up more than two dozen co-sponsors to oppose the plan to kill the Warthog.

Even those Air Force officials leading the move to retire the A-10 admit that they’re doing it with extreme reluctance.

At a roundtable with reporters last year, Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of Staff, admitted that “I love the A-10, that was my first fighter, I love everything about the airplane,” Welsh said.“But we’ve got to make some tough decisions here.”

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{ 191 comments… read them below or add one }

Kole February 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Pierre Sprey is going to have a heart attack if they retire the A-10.

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Jeff February 25, 2014 at 3:20 am

If they cut the U-2 they might as well close Beale.

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Atomic Walrus February 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm

I'm sure that's been accounted for as part of the cost savings in retiring the U-2.

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Jobrown March 2, 2014 at 5:54 pm

That is so true so Marysville, Linda, and Yuba will almost shutdown without that military presence.

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Beale buster March 2, 2014 at 11:47 pm

If you live or the twin cities Marysville/Yuba City all have to do is look up. Beale jas been flying and training on the MC12 for over a year. Dont forget Pave Paws. Beale is part of ACC, but USStratCom has a say so in its future because it is owns it mission.

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Musson February 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

Is threatening to retire the A-10 like the Park Service threatening to close the Statue of Liberty? Are they expecting Congress to find $$$ to reinstate the aircraft?

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Riceball February 24, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I agree that the A-10 should, eventually be retired because it is starting to get a bit long in the tooth, however, it shouldn't be retired until we have some to replace that's as good or better than the A-10 which the F-35 is not nearly as good much less better.

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Chuck Mock February 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

I work at the A-10 depot facility and they are getting brand new Boeing wing sets which would extend their life beyond 2030. There is nothing that can beat that gun on the A-10…its a real shreader!

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Mastro February 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Well- almost any MANPAD can hit the A-10 now- that puts the 30 mm gun out.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Not a valid arguement. Why because if there were all of these ficticious manpads out there we wouldnt have a helicopter or A-10 still flying. You have probably never even seen a real A-10 much less one in action. Its more than just a 30mm gun system its a flying tank that carries a heavy bombload too. The F-35 can't do ground support missions because it can't carry a large enough payload and it flys too fast. The A-10 can loiter over the battlefield for a long time and flies slow enough that it can hit targets with dumb bombs thith pinpoint accuracy. The F-35 would have to have a $25,000 stap on guidenss system added. The A-10 can absorb all kinds of damage and fly home and the F-35 will start falling apart after a few hits.

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Hunter76 February 25, 2014 at 8:40 am

Believing the budget-busting F-35 can replace the A-10 for CAS is madness.

Replacing the manned U-2 with a UAV makes sense, but not 176 megabucks per copy. They should seek a new spy UAV from a contractor who does not have a direct pipeline to the Treasury.

Big savings are available by cutting some big ships, the F-35, and, yes, personnel costs.

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Hialpha February 25, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Cutting big ships? What big ships? With a future focus on the Eastern Pacific, among other places, cutting big ships to feed the Air Force future acquisitions when the Navy is already stretched thin is madness.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 7:42 am

No reason to retire the A-10 except the AF wants to finally rid itself of a Close Air support plane that doesnt fly supersonic and isnt sexy. And Hagel is an idiot. The A-10 more than pays for itself in saved ammo, soldiers lives and equipment. If he wants to save money kill that dog of a plane called the F-35.
Clinton retired the U-2 and a few months later had to bring them back on line because satellites can’t see everything or anything when clouds are present. Clintons constant repositioning of satellites used up several satellites fuel. The global hawks operations cost is horrendous even for a military program.

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citanon February 24, 2014 at 5:47 pm

The bit about the U-2 is fascinating. What do they have as a replacement?

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William_C1 February 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

We had one 40 years ago known as the SR-71.

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Bernard February 25, 2014 at 5:42 pm

The Blackbird costs too much to run and can still be shot down. The fuel consumption isn't justifiable.

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DB-1 February 26, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Name me one time when a Blackbird was EVER SHOT DOWN???

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FIGMO February 27, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Every aspect of SR operation is now made prohibitively expensive (referring to such things as special tires, special fuel, special hydraulic fluids etc. plus all the human technical skills to put crew in the plane and get it aloft, refueled and recovered).

But, this fact of cost is not some justification as if it is based upon skill and cunning in thinking and military planning. The ill-informed decision to scrap the HABU is a self-fulfilling prophecy on the impossibility of its' rebirth. No matter how bad it might be needed today, it cannot be resurrected for the previous practical reasons..

The public domain literature does not say whether any of the several aircraft lost since it was made operational were a direct or indirect result of enemy action. So, no news of a shoot-down is hardly surprising. But the absence of such data is not proof of anything.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm

The Global Hawk

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retired462 February 25, 2014 at 8:03 am

They were going to scrap them (Global Hawk) , and should have. Get rid of them, and keep the U-2 as originally planned.

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Bernard February 26, 2014 at 11:12 pm

The same mach 6 SAM that took down the U-2 over Russia would have no problem with a mach 3 Blackbird. Newer SAM missiles are even better.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 3:09 pm

The newest SAMs have never been tested in combat. They can't even maintain their nuke missiles or tanks. What makes you think they can maintain AAA

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Beale uster February 26, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Beale has been flying and training to replace the U-2 for well over a year with the MC-12

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citanon February 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Apparently the replacement IS the Global Hawk:
http://www.dodbuzz.com/2014/02/27/global-hawk-tra

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 1:22 pm

But what good is it if the imagry is crap and the cost to maintain and fly it exceed the cost of a U-2 or SR-71?

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Globalstrat February 24, 2014 at 6:35 pm

U2 and SR71 served together. SR72 replaces SR71. U2 has many 'rivals' in the form of drones and increased satellite capability.

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Lance February 24, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Downside there is no SR-72 now and some want it to be a drone which make it more accident prone just ask the happy Iranians about drones since now they have knowledge due to drones.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 7:46 pm

You do not need a guy at 68,000 taking photos anymore. We have other platforms.

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greg February 24, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Like what? The sensors on the Global Hawk stink and it also doesn't fly as high as the U-2. The terrorists know the Satellites schedule better than we do.
So tell everyone a system we currently have that provides the same capabilities as the U-2???????

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 8:41 pm

A photo at 50K is no worse than at 68k. Long term, safer for the pilots as well. Reports are flying like that leads to brain problems. It's has had it's day. Let the fandom go.

Shaun Pollock February 25, 2014 at 8:05 am

People are arguing about nothing. Retiring U2 doesn't mean that the Global Hawk is finally better or cheaper.

It just means the black surveillance platforms are mature and can replace the U2. Bringing Global Hawk into the argument is just smoke and mirrors.

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Ben February 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

That's IF the SR-72 is ever produced. The fact that Lockheed has been so public about it (and the fact that it's so far off yet) makes it seem like a pile of vaporware.

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Beale Buster February 26, 2014 at 11:37 pm

As a FYI, NASA has been flying the SR-71 for YEARS!!

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A/C Mech February 27, 2014 at 4:21 pm

FYI, Last NASA flight of an SR-71 was back in 1999. All have been retired. Do your research. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/X-Press/S

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Lance February 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm

I agree with any here the JSF is lousy CAS platform much as how the Pentagon tried this in the mid 1990s with the F-16 a standard fighter bombers is not a true CAS platform we did this in Vietnam and the F-100s, F-104s, and F-105s made lousy CAS planes for troops and so both the the navy and air force used WW2 vintage Skyraiders for this role. The USAF needed a jet platform for survivability reason for Europe and hence the A-10 was born. If you need replace the A-10 get a new CAS platform in service. this Pentagon is going back to 1950s thinking. We don't need tanks we don't need CAS aircraft we don't need to teach dogfighting because instead of missiles now its stealth tech making use do this. Every time we see the idiots in the Pentagon to wake up and say ohh we do need those..

As for the A-10 now I don't the Senate or House will allow a full A-10 retirement to pass too many congressmen/women and Senators on both parties have states where A-10s are part of either active USAF or USANG units this will be the first part of Heagle's plan to se shredded.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Your fighting not the last war, but one of 50 years ago. The rest of the USAF can carry the same weapons. We can put jdams, Mavericks & hellfires on other platforms.

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Archer February 24, 2014 at 8:16 pm

What about the 30mm gatling cannon? I don't think any other USAF aircraft or perhaps any aircraft in service anywhere right now can carry that weapon system.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 8:49 pm

What about it? Rules of engagement, make gun runs rare. Few targets need a 30mm shell to kill it. A 20mm or even a ,50 bmg will tear a pick up truck with a AA gun just as well….

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Dustin February 25, 2014 at 1:22 am

Tiger – It seems like your comment is lacking any real war time experience.

jhm February 25, 2014 at 2:06 am

Therefore let's get rid of all of our teen fighters and f22s, we don't need jdams or mavericks to take out those pickup trucks right? Oh right we keep those fighters for future conflicts that could involve heavy armor and top line fighters right? Ohhhh then in that line of thought shouldn't we keep those a10s?

Chaz February 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

The rest of the USAF doesn’t have the loiter time and lacks the intimidation factor that goes into supporting the troops on the ground. You also need more help targeting it at the higher speeds, and at slower speeds your mission survivability deceases because you either have one engine or swept wings, and lack the built in redundancies of the A-10. Ask a TACP, grunt, or marine what they prefer and why, then you will get unfiltered truth as to actual capabilities and results.

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The_Hand February 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Unfortunately the A-10 was obsolete for its own mission by the time it was deployed. No other fixed wing aircraft flies squarely in the envelope of every known air defense system. The A-10 had by far the worst per-sortie loss rate in 1991, to the point where it was completely banned from flying at low levels.

The A-10 was lucky in that it got to see a couple of asymmetric warfare theaters where the bad guys didn't even have significant numbers of SA-7s, so we actually got some use out of that silly gun. But in reality it's a dreadfully slow bomb truck that can't loiter or outrun anything. Even if low and slow is the best way to do CAS, if I were a grunt and the SHTF, I think I might prefer a JDAM on the bad guys in 15 minutes than some gun passes in 30.

Real CAS is better served by Apaches and Cobras anyway, that require no airfields and can take advantage of terrain as well as doing anything else the A-10 can.

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Godzilla February 25, 2014 at 12:59 am

Remember those wrecked Apaches in the last Iraq war? They were so maimed by ground fire that they had to send the A-10s in. The Warthog is just more survivable. You people certainly have a short memory.

The A-10 is supposed to be used once you have air supremacy. You know when you send the ground troops into the area of operations. If we followed your perspective to its limit we would have nothing but strategic bombers. No scratch that. Even those are vulnerable to surface to air missiles. Just scratch the Air Force altogether and replace everything with missiles.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm

These people keep forgetting how many helo's we've lost to RPGs. The SA-7s they keep talking about are old and haven't been maintained. Will a few work sure. Most are probably more dangerous to the guy firing it.

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Godzilla February 25, 2014 at 1:00 am

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_aviation_sho

Keep talking about loss rates now.

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chaos0xomega February 25, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I find it funny that your argument for the A-10s obsolescence is that it "flies squarely in the envelope of every known air defense system" yet the Apaches and Cobras you propose as a superior CAS platform fly lower, slower, are less survivable/durable, and have less countermeasures available to counter enemy anti-air.

That logical fallacy is the result of not having a clue of what you're talking about, or having a personal axe to grind which results in heavy bias that skews your perception and arguments in favor of one side or the other.

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Steve B. February 25, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Well, no, the point is that nothing works in the weeds when there's any semblance of an air defense system intact. You have to defeat that first and event then as we've seen, the "in the weeds" platforms are vulnerable to AA fire. So the A10 suffers, as do the Apaches and as would have the Comanche. Then you find yourself at 15,000 ft dropping laser designated from a JSF, which CAN do that mission. And if you missed an S-300 SAM launcher, that pops up, the JSF has a better chance of surviving that engagement.

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Steve B. February 25, 2014 at 2:04 pm

But if you don't have any threat of AA, then Apache works and you don't need the A10.

DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:18 pm

"And if you missed an S-300 SAM launcher, that pops up, the JSF has a better chance of surviving that engagement".

So what your saying is lets use an expensive, maintenance intensive, high altitude fighter to drop $50,000 – $100,000 bombs on a small group of bad guys without entering into the engagement envelope of a S-300 launcher. That's just plain stupid.

Chaz February 25, 2014 at 2:44 pm

What’s the point of these stealth aircraft if we are not using it to knock out all air defenses and control airspace while the CAS aircraft supports the troops on the ground. And your comment about Apaches and Cobras, give me a break.

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Tim February 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Retire the best intelligence plane we have? Is Hagel on crack!!???

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 8:52 pm

We plenty of drones, spy sats, & ellint birds today. The U-2 is not special, 60 years later.

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MCQknight February 24, 2014 at 10:13 pm

The U-2's flying now were built in the 80's, and their sensors are brand spanking new. The U-2 provides things that satellites and drones can't.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Such as? Your crying about a plane, not the mission ability.

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Invictus February 25, 2014 at 3:34 am

Tiger, why don’t you actually do a little research into the capabilities of the U-2 before popping off about it? There is not a single platform in the inventory as flexible as the U-2 is. The many combinations of sensors it can carry is absolutely remarkable. It can carry a whole host of imagining sensors, ELINT equipment, and much more. There are many of these intelligence gathering system that cannot be carried by any other platform in the fleet, not Predator, not Global Hawk. The move to preserve the U-2 over the Global Hawk wasn’t based solely on cost, but because its modular nature. The only downside to the platform is the fact that it has a man in the loop, though there were rumors that Lockheed had investigated an unmanned version. http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/u-2-sensors.htm is a basic idea of the sensors it can carry, and the books I have, show a lot more then that. So its not out of some sense of nostalgia that people are crying for the possible passing of the U-2, its a very practical thing.

Chuck Mock February 25, 2014 at 7:38 am

He is Obama's hatchet man…

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hibeam February 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

We are North Mexico now. We need every dollar to pay people to not work.

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RRGED February 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Grrrrreeeeeaaaattt our enemies can get a little rest now that those two very important military hardware are put to pasture. I just hope DOD know what they're doing.

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getreal February 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm

All of America's enemies are internal… big corporations, banking interests…
what nation in the world has the resources to invade and hold an entire continent surrounded by two oceans? use your common sense…

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Matthew Jacobs February 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

The Air force has never really liked the CAS assignment for the Army, it's just not sexy enough.

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mpower6428 February 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm

The Air force needs to be taught a lesson. Let the army procure and field its own fixed wing aircraft.

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jhm February 25, 2014 at 1:58 am

You trying to cause WWIII? hahaha

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Chuck Mock February 25, 2014 at 7:40 am

Give the A-10 Warthogs to the Army and the Marines. They would gladly accept them!

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chaos0xomega February 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Thats a non-solution. The Air Force isn't cutting them, the Secretary of Defense is. Its not an issue about who wants the platform, its an issue of who has the money to keep them, the answer is apparrently no-one (though I would guess that the $3.5 billion over 5 years could be found by reducing F-35 orders for the next 5 years instead…)

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

About 30 years ago the AF was going to retire them and the Army said GREAT WE WILL TAKE THEM! Overnight the AF changed its mind.

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Doug Dryden February 27, 2014 at 2:26 am

Yes, that was the same attitude at the Battle of Kasserine Pass.

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Justin Miller March 3, 2014 at 1:58 pm

Not 'sexy' enough. Wow. That is an incredibly ignorant statement.

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Stephen N Russell February 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Give U2 for R&D alone, IE flying lab & make some museum planes or OK the 2 place model for Fee rides alone for Adventure tourism alone.
& privitize the A10, IE for firms like Xe to use.
A10 hasn't been tested on Chinese armor.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I think NASA has some already…

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Chuck Mock February 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

The spent uranium will work on Chinese armor, it burns through the armor and when it reaches the air on the inside the tank it explodes, end of story!

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Thomas L. Nielsen February 25, 2014 at 8:16 am

"….it burns through the armor…." – DU penetrates by virtue of its kinetic energy, and because it has a tendency to fracture during penetration, making the penetrator in effect "self-sharpening". It does not "burn through" armor any more than a shaped charge does.

"….when it reaches the air on the inside the tank it explodes…" – DU is pyrophoric when in small enough pieces, which means penetrator fragments catch fire following penetration. This causes some impressive fireworks, and may ignite fuel and ammunition inside the target, making it explode. But the penetrator itself "just" burns.

That said, the 30x173mm PGU-14/B will probably penetrate the top and rear armor of most modern MBTs (including the Chinese ones). Turret and hull frontal armor, probably not so much.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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gildas February 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

Even if there is no penetration, the tank is pretty useless… i saw some T72 or T62 (not 100% sure, it's a long time ago) in ex Yougo that had been ambushed with triple A: all the sensors, aiming periscope, main and coaxial gun, turret rotation mech etc were useless, chewed up. The engine still ran, but that's abut it.

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Steve B. February 25, 2014 at 9:58 am

Explain under what circumstances an A10 is going up against a Chinese tank. It's WAY done the list of potential threat scenarios, and that's the point. The A10 is a tank buster and there are few scenarios where a large scale war of armored units is going to take place.

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Thomas L. Nielsen February 25, 2014 at 10:35 am

Well, the GAU-8 also fires an HEI round, which should work just fine against anything that doesn't warrant the API. And if you're concerned about duds, use the TP round – which is basically a 378g solid slug exiting the GAU-8 at just over 1.000m/s.

The A-10 may have been designed as a tank buster, but in a tank-less environment, it is still far from useless.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Lightingguy February 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm

But it's been shôwn that a bunch off B1's or anything similar can do the air to ground mission as well and far more cost effectively' it's now about a grunt with a laser designator picking targets for a ground or airborne launch platform. Doesn't need to be a mission specific aircraft like the A10 getting ordinance on target.

And Korea will be like shooting fish in a barrel for the ROK's, whose military has improved to the point that the presence of 2ID is for show.

Hunter76 February 25, 2014 at 10:59 am

Korea.

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Tiger February 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm

Nobody in DC or Seoul has the will to re fight the Korean war. The sinking of the Cheonan in 2010 proved that.

@LCohen37 February 24, 2014 at 10:12 pm

For those who say that the A-10 is obsolete just ask the Iraqi tank crews who were obliterated by them. The A-10 is an essential element of our national defense. We are not going to send out $100 million F-35's to hunt tanks. And, $3.5 billion over the next five years is a lot of money, it is chump change for what the A-10 does for fighting wars.

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Tiger February 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm

We have a stockpile of tanks. Plenty of planes with anti armor missiles & smart bombs. Not to mention a gunship force designed to do the same job.

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jhm February 25, 2014 at 2:02 am

Those "planes" can't take triple a fire, or maneuver on a dime at low levels, do you remember what happened to the british strike tornadoes flying low near aa guns *poof*. Tanks can't reach the AOE quick enough, and helicopters simply cannot take the damage a warthog can. Unless you expect apaches to take multiple 30 mm rounds anywhere and fly 500 mph while carrying 16,000 pds of munitions.

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citanon February 25, 2014 at 2:14 am

SDBII, WCMD+SFW, + advanced AESA and IR targeting says the F-35 will probably kill those tanks just as well, if not better than A-10s.

In case you didn't notice, the latest upgrades to the A-10s were pretty much heading in that direction any ways.

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Mastro February 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

What tank force are you planning to attack? China? Russia?

Frankly we don't need the Warthog and there are cheaper COIN aircraft out there.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Name one, just one that can do the job anware near as well.

Justin Miller March 3, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Sorry dude, no A-10 has EVER flown close to 500mph… And why do you need to be able to maneuver on a dime at low level when you can hit anything (tanks, structures, etc) with precision munitions at altitudes above the WEZ of AAA?

Make no mistake, the A-10 is an impressive platform that did amazing things for the U.S., but if you're going to make an argument, make a relevant one.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Justin, Please stop playing so many video games. Do you have any idea how much those precision weapons cost? Also some of you talk about the A-300's which have a max altitude engagement range o100,000 so you must be claiming the F-22 flies above 100,000. Aint happening. It would be cheaper to just nuke the battlefield and more effective.

Jacob February 25, 2014 at 2:49 am

I'm inclined to take the anti A-10 side. We can put precision weapons on just about any aircraft nowadays, so that still leaves us with decent CAS capability. If we can assassinate terrorists with drone-fired Hellfires, then we can do the same to enemy troop formations with JDAMs and SDBs dropped from other platforms. And the A-10 is far from the only thing in our arsenal that can kill tanks: we have Hellfires, Javelins, TOWs, and Mavericks mounted on a variety of ground and air platforms…not to mention the fact that we still have one of the best MBTs in the world. Perhaps if we had a better budget environment we could keep the A-10, but at the moment I don't see it as being essential, and since we're probably not going to choose to fight any land wars soon, cutting the A-10 is likely an acceptable risk.

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Atomic Walrus February 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

The Iraqis tankers who got "plinked" by F-15Es equipped with LGBs are just as dead. Difference is that the F-15Es didn't get raked by AAA the way that the A-10s did. The A-10s got the pilots back to base, but needed months of repair work before they were mission-ready again. If you're fighting a modern war, a plane that's out of service for months requiring major repairs is about as useful as the one that got shot down.

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KEN February 28, 2014 at 8:53 am

That statement is simply not true. Several of the damaged A-10s in Desert Storm that were damaged were turned around and returned to service before the war ended. I have photos of a few of these that were turned around.

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Justin Miller March 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm

The first Gulf War was almost 25 years ago. ..How many tanks does the taliban and al-queda have again?? And I beg to differ. F-35s with GPS guided JDAMS will probably be pretty effective against tanks. Just sayin'.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Justin, If an F-22 gets damaged it can take weeks to months to fix. In testing a canopy got stuck closing. They had to cut the thing off and cost about $1,000,000 to repair. They can't even fly them in the rain without the radar absorbing paint peeling off. Hell a couple of shrapnel hits will cause the skin of the plane to peel off. Get away from the video games and live in the real world.

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MCQknight February 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Just for everyone's education this image is an example of the fecal matter produced by the RQ-4:
http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/dangerroom/2010

I'll let you all decide why it's bad.

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William_C1 February 25, 2014 at 1:56 am

Hopefully whatever caused *that* is easily fixable. Manned or unmanned the camera part of a high-flying strategic reconnaissance aircraft probably hasn't changed much. Somebody misaligned something I'd guess.

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MCQknight February 25, 2014 at 2:16 am

Mmmmm….nope. It's first flight was 1998. They've had 16 years to fix this.

Also without getting into details the "camera part" is arguably the most complex piece of equipment on the aircraft. By far.

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Hunter76 February 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

I give up.

Why is this an indictment of the RQ-4 (of which I'm no fan)? Is this picture unusable for damage assessment? Or are you criticizing the target selection, which is a back room human judgement, and has nothing to do with the recon plane?

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Nadnerbus February 24, 2014 at 11:58 pm

so by cutting all A-10 squadrons, they can save 3.5 billion over five years, or $700 million a year. Which comes out to, what three or four F-35s per year? That won't even have IOC for a year or two longer, and most likely won't even be truly combat ready for a while longer still?

Why is everyone in the defense world so fixated on top of the line, peer versus peer equipment? The argument that the A-10 can't stand up to modern fighters and air defenses is true, except it has not needed to at all for its entire fighting career. What makes people so sure it will have to any time soon? We have a tool, bought and paid for, that accomplishes the mission extremely well at a relative bargain price in cost per flight hour, and we are trying to throw it away to get a new tool, that wont be ready to use for a while, will cost much much more to procure and use, and be less effective in the CAS role. It just seems like such a terrible waste.

The F-35 is truly the plane that is going to destroy our military capability. So much else is being sacrificed to keep it alive.

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Vietvet1968 February 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

I agree with you. Planes have always been built for a specific purpose and the A-10 is the best in close air support, tank killing, and putting the "fear of God" into the enemy. The F-35 does not fit those requirements.The DoD has their collective heads up their fat butts. You need the U-2 for spying, the A-10 for ground support and tank killing and the F-35 for air superiority. And B-2 to bomb the hell out of them!

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Mastro February 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm

"so by cutting all A-10 squadrons, they can save 3.5 billion over five years, or $700 million a year."

That's real money to me- if not to the Gov.

Especially if it just involves AF pilots flying around Arizona, etc.

I'm sick about the F35- but we really don't have a choice right now.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Cutting all of these bullshit welfare programs would save trillions over the next 5 years. All they do is insure people never go back to the workforce. Every see a cat skeleton in a tree? No and you never will because they come down when they get hungry. People will work to eat if no one is giving them everything for free.

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thomas85225 February 25, 2014 at 12:10 am

In Vietnam the 1937 build DC-3 where use as AC-47 gunship, A-26 and Skyraiders
the Douglas C-47, A-26 and the North American P-51 saw action in WWII and Koran
alone with the Battleship

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel should be drop into the mild east where there no Navy Aircraft carries and no A-10 for backup
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel could take the M-16 from a troop to save money too
every one at the Pentagon should be transfer to the mild east for a years ! with a AR-15 a 10 round clip as require under California law

Since 1991 in the mild east the A-10 where rebuild and upgrade, where the work horse
an a Sr-71 was return to service from flying storage for use in the mild east
B-1B and Glob Hawk and General Atomics Predator

All these non Boeing program are bought and paid for and are proven program.
all these program going thought there version of commercial C and D check

The C-130 has been around since the 1950's is still going strong

Boeing in 1997 won a contact to rebuild all the Kc-135 E, R & T that only has 1400 to 1800 hours on there airframe with new skins, new wiring and BAE cockpit
the service life of kc-135 is 3900 hours or still the years 2040
the KC-135 only fly 375 hours a years since the Air Force no longer kept fleet of aircraft airborne 24/7
the update-rebuild kc-135 are being sent to the bone yard in AZ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KC-135 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aihttp://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ai
The Air Force has retire the Kc-135E that was update since 1997 and E model can be turn into R model for 23 million per the GOA report http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d02724r.pdf

The Kc-46 is 900 million over budget and one year behind schedule on testing
The P-8 does not perform
Boeing Surveillance Plane Found Not Effective for Mission … http://www.bloomberg.com/…/boeing-surveillance-plane-f...

All these non Boeing program will now be replace with Boeing program

Boeing has 110 volitions of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)
Boeing MILITARY SCANDALS http://www.endgame.org/boeing.html http://www.contractormisconduct.org/index.cfm/1,7http://www.seattleweekly.com/2001-04-18/news/high

Illegal Immigration is Costs U.S. $113 Billion a Year, http://www.foxnews.com/us/…/immigration-costs-fair-amn...

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Thomas L. Nielsen February 25, 2014 at 10:41 am

Where is this "mild east" you keep referring to?

Or are you suggesting that Hagel et. al be parachuted into Guangzhou airport to have their nails done (that was the only reference I could find: http://www.mild-east.com)?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Hialpha February 25, 2014 at 8:33 pm

Thomas, I'm not sure the person you are writing to has all his engines running at full speed.

Cheers

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Justin Miller March 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

No C-130 built in the 1950's is still in theater or still in the service with the USAF. C-130 ops are being taken over more and more by the C-130J which is a completely new airfram built starting in the late 1990's. Many squadrons are still receiving new C-130Js that literally came off the assembly line this year.

It's all about relevancy. The C-130 still has the key role of tactical airlift. Aerial refueling is still key. The A-10, although an excellent tank-killer, has no utility to kill tanks on the modern battlefield and CAS can be done by other aircraft and in fact, over 80% of CAS missions in Afghanistan are flown by aircraft other than the A-10.

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thomas85225 March 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The A-10 was used in combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 900 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 other military vehicles and 1,200 artillery pieces, making it by far the most effective aircraft of the war.[4] A-10s also shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8 cannon. The first of these was shot down by Captain Robert Swain over Kuwait on 6 February 1991, marking the A-10's first air-to-air victory.[74] Four A-10s were shot down during the war, all by surface-to-air missiles. Another three battle-damaged A-10s and OA-10As returned to base but were written off, some sustaining additional damage in crashed landings.[75][76] The A-10 had a mission capable rate of 95.7%, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90% of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the conflict.[77] Shortly after the Gulf War, the Air Force gave up on the idea of replacing the A-10 with a close air support version of the F-16.[78]

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tom k. February 25, 2014 at 5:19 am

Hagel has been anti military is whole career, and following Obamas orders to destroy the military. This has to be put to a stop. And they both need to be charged with Treason.

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gaylord_gaylordson February 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Yes, he was totally "anti-military" when he was fighting in Vietnam. Totally. Awesome analysis as usual from the teenagers.

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SJE March 3, 2014 at 8:29 am

Yep. While I may not agree with everything the SECDEF does, it does not make it treason. And, a bit of rethinking is required over at the Pentagon. Endless cost overruns is not good for the long term health of the military, let alone the rest of the budget.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 10:15 am

The problem with military procurement is that no one is held responsible for bad decisions. Those decisions cost us billions every year. And many of the cost overruns is because of gov't people constantly changing design parameters.

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PolicyWonk February 25, 2014 at 7:32 am

The USAF reviewed the surveillance platforms they have, and determined the U-2 to be better and less expensive in many respects to the Global Hawk. For example, it can fly ~10,000ft higher than the Global Hawk, and carry a much heavier load of gear – so more gets done per flight.

Where I"m tend to be suspicious of the USAF and its motivations in some areas, I think this time they got it right.

However, the A-10 should remain. The F-35 cannot replace the A-10 as the Chair Force contends in the ground support mission , with smart bombs and a cannon with a magazine that carries a whopping ~120 rounds (contrast that to the A-10's magazine for the 30mm cannon, that carries almost 10X that).

Rarely does an aircraft inspire the adoration of the ground-pounders, and outright fear to the bad guys like the A-10.

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JJ Murray February 25, 2014 at 7:36 am

"…“it cannot survive or operate effectively where there are more advanced aircraft or air defenses,"
And so the doublespeak begins. On the one had we don't need as big a force or as many squadrons because we no longer have a large, sophisticated enemy to fight anymore but on the other hand we need to modernize our equipment so that we can fight a large, sophisticated enemy.

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TonyC. February 25, 2014 at 8:15 am

The A-10 is an old air frame and getting harder to keep flying, so the Air Force wants to retire it (like the US Navy did for the F-14D). Doesn't mean it is an obsolete asset, only a costly one. There is no viable replacement for the A-10, short of using UAV's and hope the commlinks don't get hacked. The A-10's can be sent to the bone yard and reactivated, if needed. The U2 won't be so lucky. The SR-71's are all museum pieces and so will be the U2's.

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IronV February 25, 2014 at 5:40 pm

The age of the airframe is not an issue. Those are stout birds. And the Air Force does not "want" to retire the A-10. They feel that given the budget, they have no choice. But nobody's happy about it.

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PolicyWonk February 26, 2014 at 8:43 am

The A-10 fleet was just completely rebuilt and upgraded. At the start, they were heavily constructed, if not overbuilt deliberately to withstand a LOT of punishment.

And the platform has repeatedly proven its toughness, still flying home with an entire engine blown off, half the wing gone, etc. You'll never see that in an F-35, which simply cannot go low without endangering itself or the pilot.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

Didn't the first B-52 fly in 1952? Now that is old and its still the workhorse of the AF

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MaybeAnIdiot February 25, 2014 at 8:16 am

I'm not an expert by any means but the Pentagon seems to be 100% sold on the idea of multipurpose platforms. They don't want a dedicated air superiority fighter (So they cut off the F-22), or a dedicated CAS platform(kill the A-10), a dedicated surveillance aircraft (so they arm the drones) or a dedicated anything really. Everything has to be multirole. Part fighter, part precision bomber, part CAS, ect. Another example would be the LCS program for the Navy.

The reason it doesn't make any sense to my amateur eyes is thus:

If you assume we will be facing primarily asymmetrical threats for the foreseeable future, then multirole makes sense. But if that is the case, why do you need all the bells and whistles and top of the line everything just to drop some JDAMs on insurgents or terrorist. Seems pretty stupid to demand a stealth aircraft for an enemy that doesn't have RADAR.

On the other hand, if you do expect a future conflict with a major power, which can only mean China these days, then dedicated platforms are exactly what you need. Vietnam, as others have pointed out, showed the weakness of 'Jack of All Trades, Master of None' platforms.

I think that is why retiring the A-10 without a dedicated CAS platform to take its place seems so foolish. More and more the F-35 program looks and feels like a bunch of spoiled boys not wanting to give up their shiny new toys. And the excuse we keep hearing is that there are no other options. It's F-35 or bust. Which is stupid and a lie.

The most logical step to me would be to can the VTOL F-35 (Seriously, why do we need VTOL jet fighters? It's like putting a Porsche's body on a Honda Civic and then asking that car to perform like a supercar. But I digress.), and take serious hard look at the Air Force and Navy variants.

At this point, I'd prefer they buy more F-15Es and if they need something to back up the F-22 look into the stealthy F-15 Boeing has been trying to shop around. The Navy, which is desperate to join the Air Force in the 'stealth club,' can keep pushing ahead with the F-35 if they want, or maybe try an upgrade to the F/A-18.

They would save money on proven, successful, platforms and then they can go back to the drawing board for a true replacement for each instead of this one size fits all garbage.

But they won't, because the F-35 is the shiny new toy and they're tired of their old ones.

Like I said, there a plenty who have more knowledge on this than me. I'm just an arm chair general here. But that's the way it looks to my amateur eyes.

As for U-2 vs Global Hawk, I have absolutely no idea what either can or can't do and what is the best option there.

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hibeam February 25, 2014 at 9:16 am

After the apology tour everyone is our friend now. Maybe you didn't notice. We don't even need a military anymore. We have an Apologizer in Chief. That's all we really need.

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ronnie pond February 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

hagel out of there.

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LesG007 February 25, 2014 at 9:48 am

A-10 Stays!
U-2 Stays in Reserve!
SR-72 replaces U-2 when flights tests prove ability to…

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Tiger February 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Well break out the check book then and pay for them.

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Beale Uster February 26, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Without giving out too much, the U-2 has been kept because, if and when, our satellites are knocked out, it can produce ISR.

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Mastro February 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm

How much of a tax increase do you want?

We aren't going to war any time soon anyway-

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm

How about cutting welfare and reducing unemployment checks back to 6 weeks from the current 99. That will save all of the money and bring in more tax money.

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tankjas February 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

Retire Hagel and Obama; a lot of money would be saved with that move!

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Charles February 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Just think of how much would've been saved if George W Bush were never elected!

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ronaldo February 25, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Please….no trolls for either party, please !

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BobSacamano February 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

Who'd trust anything this crowd of "Cub Scouts" would do? Obama and his minions would dismantle America's military to fund [his] social justice hoax! Folks, Obama is [the] problem, he's delaying an economic recovery, while continuing the deficit spending on his "food stamp" economy!

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Leo Gerald Johnson February 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

I don't know why the DOD want's to get rid of an aircraft that has proven itself in combat.Why don't they just improve on it's "Technology' anddesign? If they want to cut a program why don't they cut the LCS program?Cause of all of the reports that I've read tell's me that this program was desighec to fail in the first place.The Navy has really had problems with the ships they've gbuilt in this program.Why dio't they scrap It.

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wtpworrier February 25, 2014 at 12:25 pm

The U2 is obsolete anyway, losing it will hurt nothing. I mean, we got satellites that do a much better job. Losing the A10 is a different ball game. I've heard some Air Force General say the F35 can replace the A10….I don't think so.

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ronaldo February 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm

The fact is, the U-2 is anything but obsolete. It carries more than twice the payload of the G Hawk.

It also flies at least two miles higher which allows much further penetration into denied territory which allows….do I need to explain that ?

Lastly, the ECM suite on the U2 is much, much better than that on the G Hawk.

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tomUK February 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

The Sopwith ‘Camel’ was an outstanding aircraft. Can’t understand why the RAF doesn’t still have a few operational Squadrons.

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gaylord_gaylordson February 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Probably yes….they will.

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dingo7 February 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I love the Warthog… my first base was DM. However as many of you are aware, there are many different weapon systems from many different platforms that can bomb tanks from miles away with pinpoint precision. Can we still use the A10, sure. Can we use other platforms for the exact same thing, yes. The A10 is obsolete.

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ronaldo February 25, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Dingo, you just can't say things like that here. For the most part you are talking to the Nostagia military forces of the US.

( What is that ? NMFUS ? )

True in any case.

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Muttling February 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I've been contracting and following military news for over 20 years. This is the 3rd time (I think) that I've seen them try to kill the A-10 program. It's cheap and brutally effective at it's mission, but the Pentagon can't love a Warthog.

As a previous poster mentioned, killing the entire program buys 3 or 4 more F-35s which are barely capable of the carrying out the mission which the A-10 absolutely dominates.

This bird is hard to kill on the battlefield as well as the political field. Gotta love her. I say we fly them until the wings fall off.

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Peter February 25, 2014 at 3:10 pm

The F-35 is going to destroy your military. OK, that's a contentious thing to say but from here (the UK) it looks like everything you've built up in the way of military hardware is just being sacrificed on the altar of that one, single project. Which has yet to demonstrate any capabilities in any field, let alone the multiple ones it's touted as being able to cover.

And, yes, I know we're buying it as well. Please don't remind me.

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Praetorian February 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm

I’m not happy about the A-10 being cut, but good luck getting that through congress, no matter what party line your from. On the other hand I did like what Hagel had to say about the LCS. He is cutting the LCS fleet to 32 ships, to focus on ships with more firepower.

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Caesarjd February 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

As a combat veteren who's applied the awesome firepower of the A10, AC-130, and F-16's, nothing beats the first two. The A-10's absolutely take care of buisness, because they're low enough, and slow enough, to really get in the fight. Same for the AC-130's, but they only operated at night, but wow, that 105mm was real on point fire power. Never had any success with F16's in the CAS role. Too fast, too high, no loiter, no value. Can't imagine the JSF or the F35 would do any better. Leave us ground pounders the firepower we need, save your 500,000 lines of code (F35) for what it's designed for, air superiority.

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Tiger February 25, 2014 at 9:13 pm

You miss the overall point. The ground pounders are not pounding any place for a long time. Nobody in DC wants large scale ground operations to solve problems. Thus, the Army force cuts. So if you need fewer troops not pounding, they do not need all that air power.

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Steve B. February 26, 2014 at 8:06 pm

How is it that the Marines are seemingly quite adept at using their F/A18's in the ground support role and nobody doubts that usability, yet the F16 and the AF get poo pooed at the suggestion that the F16 can't do CAS.

I call BS.

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Jay levine February 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I think it would be a good idea to Sell the A-10s to South Korea or another Allay of the USA as well as the U-2 we might as well make money off of this and any other piece of equipment we are getting rid of

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Keep them Flying February 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Keep the A-10!!! While I'm at it, CANCEL the F-35!!! What I want protecting my country is the F-22 Raptor! No country has a fighter like it. We never should have stopped building them. It gives us an advantage, an edge over the competition. We don't want the F-35 "econo-box" that is being sold to every other country. The F-35 does not give us an advantage! What does it matter how old the A-10 is? Look at the B-52! If it works and works well, why get rid of it!!!!

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WPNS462 February 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm

CANX the F-35, keep the A-10 SLEP going. Anybody that thinks the AF is going to risk a F-35 in the CSAR role is an idiot. Not to mention the fact that all 140 round of 25mm aint gonna do crap compared to the GAU-8 People saying the A-10 is obsolete are crazy, all new weapons system and un matched effective loiter time and arsenal is what the US needs protecting its boundaries.

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Tiger February 25, 2014 at 10:55 pm

You seriously wake up expecting air raids by enemy nations on the USA?

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Thomas L. Nielsen February 26, 2014 at 2:03 am

Two words: Zombie. Apocalypse.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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pj February 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Keep cutting Mr. Secretary. B1′s, F 111′s, and much much more can be let go.

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The_Hand February 28, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Dude, we haven't flown F-111s for sixteen years.

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SPARTAN-035 February 25, 2014 at 8:16 pm

The damm F-35 IS A PIECE OF S*** so far, these dammed mother******* officials haven’t been on the f****** battlefield where assets like the FREAKING A-10 save these soldiers lives! THE F-35 ain’t even ready in numbers and they found NUMEROUS faults in its Structural Integrity!

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Anderson Nettleship February 25, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Just let an A-10 and a F-35 mix it up down low in the weeds and then ask the DOD which oneis better while they are picking up pieces of the F-35!

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The Highlander February 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm

The current person serving in the White House indicated when he was running for President the first time, that he wanted the United States to be a Third World Country and have a 3rd World Military. He is a socialist and/or Communist from the get go.
The people that work under him, Hagel being one of them, must do what he says, regardless of how they actually feel. There are some who actually agree with him and they are not really “Americans".

Secretary Robert Gates was a much better Secretary of Defense. However Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld were two of the best; with Caspar Weinberger coming in third.

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Steve B. February 27, 2014 at 9:49 pm

Rumsfeld was a terrible SoD. He was an egotistical fool. He essentially over-rode the army's advice to go into Iraq in '03 with more troops, which ultimately led to few troops on the ground, which in turn allowed the insurgency to get going and which then took too many years to get under control. That cost lives.

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DBM February 28, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Daddy bush was a fool too. He could have taken care of saddam when we had the army there the first time. Bush Jr trired to use the fewest troops possible to show the world we werent an army of conquest.

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Lightingguy February 28, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Bush Sr. didn't have the mandate from the coalition to do anything except free Kuwait. Recall that there were Arab forces in that coalition (of 34 countries) who otherwise would not have committed to invading if Iraq was the goal. Not that the Arabs were of much use in any case, The Gulf Arabs would not have supported the build up of forces needed.

Rumsfeld decided in '03 not to be an "Army of Conquest" when that's exactly what the goal was and what was needed. 4,500 US deaths, probably half wouldn't have happened if we had gone in with overwhelming force.

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DBM February 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

We did all of the fighting in the 1st Gulf War. Our allies did nothing except photo ops. We didnt need them and Saddams army was distroyed. We already had sufficient forces to do the job.

Then we let our allies go into criminal agreements with saddam. Remember oil for food? Germans and french each made about $10 Billion over that money laundering operation.

Chuang Shyue Chou February 25, 2014 at 11:45 pm

I think that is the right decision. The utility of the A-10 is clearly limited, perhaps, in a very limited insurgency role now.

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Shakes February 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

Guys, we know the A10 and U2 are more or less perfect at the jobs they're designed for, but they're not NEW enough. The DoD wants shiny things.

Seriously, the civilians in control are like the teenage girl that NEEDS the new iPhone.

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Mastro February 27, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Somewhat true- but the A-10 was designed to bust tanks- and no one has them anymore.

Russia might invade the Ukraine – but Obama will just give a speech- nothing more.

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Steve Vaughn February 26, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Keep the U-2 flying – it has saved America's bacon many times and continues to be a national asset. Unfortunately because so many of its missions are sensitive or classified – it seldom receives any recognition. But it is flying critical missions every single day. Overheads and UAV's cannot do the job the U-2 performs. Ask the folks at the NRO & the CIA = this is a no-brainer.

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Jim February 26, 2014 at 10:27 pm

So this idea that we don't need the A-10 because we won't be fighting tanks anymore, is a belief in the DOD and/or SecDef Hagel ? I am wondering if anyone in the DOD or Hagel himself, has bothered to check on the current size of the tank corps within the Chinese military, the North Korean military, the Iranian military or their Republican Guard? Does anyone honestly believe we won't be engaged in a war with one or all of these countries in our future?
people who don't learn from history are bound to repeat it.

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William Durham February 27, 2014 at 12:04 am

Hagel can't move his bowels without having obama tell him how and when. He is the absolutely worst and poorest excuse for a Cabinet member I have heard or seen in a long time. He doesn't have the guts or balls to say what he really wants to. He just opens his mouth and obama pours out. Maybe one day he will stand up for himself and say what he really feels and wants. Maybe?

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Steve B. February 27, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Do you not recall how Cheney and Rumsfeld walked all over Powell and Bush ?.

Did you complain then ?.

It seems that as long as it's a 'Pub in the WH then all is OK, but anybody else, even a complete moderate like BO, then it's impeachment time !.

Wise up folks, the economy will not support the spending level on the military. The majority of the American people do not agree with the wingnut agenda and voted that way thru 2 elections. Tough.

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blight_ February 28, 2014 at 6:10 pm

People want a Cold-War military at peacetime mindset, peacetime budget and peacetime taxation levels. Wishful thinking.

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T One February 27, 2014 at 5:44 am

Problem is the defense industry exist because of government funding but then again, what’s left? All the textile industry was sold up the river! What’s left that is out there that brings in major revenue in this country.

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Capt Pat February 27, 2014 at 9:46 am

Has anyone listened to the news today??? The "Russians" are holding an exercise on the border with a country we are supporting to become demoncratic!!!! And all the file footage was of "ex-Soviet" tanks moving into action….. Now who's gonna need A-10's???? The "mouse that roared", the hero of Vietnam and ex-presidential wanna-be turned Sec. of State is making noises that could prove fatal to members of our military. So much for not needing an "old", reliable and effective weapons system

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Atomic Walrus February 27, 2014 at 1:11 pm

So, where are you going to base the A-10s so that they're close enough to be able to act against the Russians in Ukraine? How are you going to get all of the support equipment to those airfields and support them? Or perhaps it'd be easier to task B-1s and B-2s loaded with JSOWs and CBU-97s with BLU-108 sensor-fused weapons and let them have a field day with the massed tank formations.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Don't worry,
The russians will get more of a fight from the ukrainians than they did the Geogians who had no real army. The russians don't really want to fight their brothers in Ukraine anyway.

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blight_ February 28, 2014 at 6:03 pm

They know Ukraine is pretty darn big compared to Georgia; and has considerable industry to produce its own weapons. A putsch in the eastern, pro-Russia part of Ukraine is possible…might have enough Abhkazia there.

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Steve B. February 27, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Reality check time.

Do you really think we, or NATO is going to provide military intervention should Russia invade the Ukraine ?. With what forces ?. It is as BTW, 1200 miles as the bird flies, from western Germany to the eastern Ukraine border. Even if we still had 4 heavy divisions in Germany, it would take us weeks to move them. Germany and Poland are not going to go along with that idea, so at that point reality sets in and we find ourselves no longer in need of anything other then a symbolic force in Europe and in no need of CAS assets to support it.

Ditto others who say "Iran ?". Really ?. Not a chance. China ?, where we staging out of ?. Are you saying we need the A10 to take on the tanks of the Chinese army ?. What a ludicrous concept and based on no concepts of logistics, geography and the world strategic situation.

Bottom line is there isn't much of a mission for a single purpose aircraft such as the A10. For the same reason the navy has done away with ASW dedicated frigates – no mission.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Only a democrat would be stupid enough to enter into a war that serves no national or strategic interests to this country. Especially one that would be hard to support except for SF help and maybe some MLRS with Brilliant munitions. The Russian AAA missile systems have always been overrated but why fly nuke capable aircraft close to Russian airspace. No Smart.

Your stance on the A-10 is stupid. Are you ex navy or AF? The sissy boys that fly fast movers have no desire to slow down enough to actually hit targets they are assigned and smart bombs are really expensive. Hellfires are $50,000 a pop! The F-22 is a single purpose aircraft that they spent millions to alter the design and test to drop small bombs. No one knows what the hell the F-35 is really going to do except waste money. Its grossly underpowered, to slow to be an air superiority fighter, and cant carry a bomb load worthy of even bothering with. The A-10 is a close air support capable of taking on any mission needed to support ground troops which you obviously don't give a damned about.

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Steve B. February 27, 2014 at 9:53 pm

"Only a democrat would be stupid enough to enter into a war that serves no national or strategic interests to this country. "

You mean like Iraq ?

"Your stance on the A-10 is stupid. Are you ex navy or AF?"

Matters not.

"The sissy boys that fly fast movers"

Tell that to the US Marine Corp. They seem to feel the F/A 18 and A-8 do just fine in this role.

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DBM February 28, 2014 at 9:17 am

You’re AF.
Marine Corps aviators have a different mission but F/A- 18 don't have loiter time and that have to have carriers or improved landing facilities to operate from. The A-10 needs improved runways also but they were made to operate in more austere conditions.

Biafra February 27, 2014 at 10:43 am

Its a shame to see that the old demons of the Pentagone are BACK!
They now prefer a fancy good looking and highly complex gadget that tries to do everything but finaly ends up doing nothing great!
Just tell me, what is the point on having a stealh plane perfoming CAS, while we all know that USAAF doctrine is to First gain Air superiority and weaken the Enemy air defences with SEAD operations? The GI joes are only to enter in action when there is a permanent air cover, rendering enemy defence's work pretty hard and suicidal.
The only big winner with the F-35 program is the Marine Corps, who will end up with a multirole VSTOL fighter, Enabling them to project with their Amphibious fleet small airpowers with the same capabilies as the big brothers USAAF and NAVY (Air superiority, SEAD, Deep Strike). But again, the Marines will lack firepower when they will call out for CAS!!! (the Primary purpose and role of the Marine Air Wing)

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dex February 27, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Didnt red china blow up a satellite?????? No Sat's no problem….and at least the U2 and the A10 have a live person aboard! my 2 cents.

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Good point. I had forgotten about that. Also most people arent aware that we have lost a ton of Drones of all kinds over Afghanistan. EMP type emitters can take a drone down very easily.

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Theadore February 27, 2014 at 7:08 pm

I remember an A-10 and pilot that shot down an enemy aircraft. An aircraft from the worlds fourth largest air force,an air force which so outclassed the A-10 that it should have been a flag draped coffin and a black spot on a patch of earth. But some one forgot to tell the pilot or his aircraft they were inferior quality.

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blight_ February 27, 2014 at 7:41 pm

When was this? Thought the A-10 only shot down helicopters.
http://articles.latimes.com/1991-02-08/news/mn-93

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DBM February 27, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Anyone who thinks regularly replacing $1,000,000,000 satellites because its cheaper than flying U-2s and SR-71s is a fool. Launch costs alone exceed the cost of flying the spy planes.

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Vern Williams February 28, 2014 at 10:38 am

Not having the A10 will result in more battlefield deaths. Saying the F35 will replace this rugged and effective ground support aircraft is crazy. You do not put a hugely expensive and fragile to small arms fire aircraft into ground support. As effective as the army helos are, they can not replace the A10 and its 30mm cannon.

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MovieMan March 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Let me see if i get Hagel intentions straight he and the "Dear Leader" want to retire the A-10 and replace it with the F35 . Does the F35 do a better job at close air support? Well he doesn't know because the plane is years behind schedule. It has to fly better and carry more weapons for close air support? Well we don't know that either. We do know that its missiles miss everything they fire at in the testing, Every-time it goes on a test flight they discover more cracks where the wings join the fuselage the floor of the plane itself and doesn't fly as fast as first reported. Well it must be able to loiter over the battlefield than the A-10? No it doesn't it flies faster than the A-10 therefore it spends less time in close air support if it ever flies.

Well if we ask the troops on the ground that depend on CAS for assistance they must certainly have negative opinion of the A-10.No they love it it does a great job and can take anything out on the battlefield. So by all means retire the plane that's bought and paid for does an outstanding job in everything its ask to do for a plane that might be ready in another 4 to 5 years that is was over budget can't come close to the plane its suppose to replace.

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Vern Williams March 3, 2014 at 10:37 pm

In light of the actions to invade Ukraine by Russia and the support of the Chinese, it would be irresponsible to downsize in light of the threats. We do not need to use taxpayer money to give 100% of kids at schools tax payer funded meals. We do not need to waste money on handouts to folks who will not work. We need to focus on the primary function of the federal government, defend the country against all enemies foreign and domestic. The president took that oath and he is reneging on his duty by his treacherous actions. Call your congressmen and insist we stop stealing from our kids while putting their freedom and futures at risk!

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MCQknight February 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

You have zero idea what you're talking about when it comes to the different capabilities between the U-2 and RQ-4. The U-2 provides a SIGNIFICANTLY better product than the RQ-4, and that's all I can say here.

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Davis February 25, 2014 at 2:38 am

How much further can you see from Pike's Peak than you can from the roof of your house?

Also – research the CARE modification.

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Godzilla February 25, 2014 at 3:21 am

I think it is less about flight ceiling, which is not that important since there is no pilot on board to be concerned about, but more about not being able to put decent sized sensors in a Global Hawk.

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Hialpha February 25, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Flying leads to brain problems? First, what doesn't lead to brain problems? Second, that sounds really uninformed.

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ronaldo February 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hey Tiger,

ISR 101….they don't take pictures. And yes, altitude is an advantage….does satellite recon have any meaning to you ? The less oblique the view, the better the electronic product.

Film is long dead.

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Tiger February 25, 2014 at 2:17 am

Dustin, the weapon was designed to kill tanks. Most of it's life it has only had the Gulf war to shoot any. So what are you shooting at that a 20mm or .50 bmg will not kill?

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Godzilla February 25, 2014 at 3:22 am

Chinese tanks. Oops sorry it slipped.

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Lance February 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

No in built up areas a A-10s cannon can rip pillboxes or cave bunkers up. Sorry that crappy JSF cannot do that as well. Its a rip off they kill real CAS capability for a feel good inferior plane in the JSF.

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Steve B. February 25, 2014 at 9:54 am

China ?, Really ?, do you envision that happening ?. Are there op plans to stage A10's out of fields in Taiwan to help defend against an PRC invasion ?. Hardly.

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Bernard February 25, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Forget RQ-4 that's just the first version. The next will cost less and do more and no pilots will be at risk. Drones are the future.

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Lightingguy February 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Back away a second. The original mission of the A10 was to kill Soviet tanks in Germany. It has, as result of a superb design, many other uses. But not many, and that's the rub. It IS aging and that has to get dealt with. The tank plinking mission was served quite well by other assets in Kuwait in '91 where the A10 did take hits when it attempted it's design mission. The A10's were hardly used in the Balkans (one took a MANPAD in an engine), but have been in Afg., but again, the mission is accomplished just as well by other systems. But are we ever going to see a plane on tank engagement again ?, not if the US can help it, cause there's no place we want to get involved to that degree, Iran, Taiwan being examples. Korea would be a re-make of Kuwait in '91, with the ROK now able to handle the mission in-house.

So as good as the aircraft was, there's few mission scenarios in the future.

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DBM February 28, 2014 at 2:53 pm

Guy either your very young or you have a very bad memory. The A-10 always had a close air support mission. Tank Killing was its forte though. And Bosnia Kosavo? Your joking right? We didnt have any airbases close enough to utilize for the A-10 and the 100+ Serbian armored vehicles reported to have been destryed by the fast movers turn out to be decoy mock ups. Only a couple of real APC actually got hit. Seems the fast movers were traveling to fast to be able to see they were mostly plywood/plastic. Iran is a problem because dispite what your president believes we do need oil flowing to world markets at market prices for our economies to survive. Iran would take exactly 5 conventional bombs to bring to it to its knees.

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DBM March 3, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Seriously. Our guys in the stan sometimes have had to wait for hours for a carrie based plane or B-1 to get on station to drop the bombs. That's a lot of time to wait.

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